Why is my chicken molting in the winter? (black quills?)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ChickensRule101, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Yes.

    2 vote(s)
    100.0%
  2. No.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. ChickensRule101

    ChickensRule101 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2013
    Central Texas
    I made a previous thread about this, (https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/843714/droopy-winged-injured-chicken-losing-feathers) but it seems that the drooped wing is now healing, but the feather shedding is much more frequent. The hen is a Gold Sex Link, she is two years old, and was always being pecked by the roosters or another bully hen. She was always the shy and weak one of the flock, so he health was never that well. A week ago her health was very low, but now she comes out of the coop, and her drooped wing is a little less drooped. But her feathers are still a huge problem, especially because her quills are very dark. And it is winter, why would she molt in winter? She is two-years-old, and she has never molten before. :-( Chickens need their feathers in the winter...
    So, I doubt that this is molting, I hope it is nothing too serious...
     
  2. HershelMS

    HershelMS Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 17, 2013
    lets do the math here shall we. The other chickens pick on her. She is definately stressed if this is the case. chickens pick their feathers when they are stressed. Feathers, like human hair, when removed, they grow back more pronounced...
    Another possibility comes to mind but i need more information about the environment:
    questions:
    Is there a light in the coop?
    If there is, does it stay on?
    Does she sleep by herself or does she pack in the group when they nest up when the sun goes down?
    Is the coop "climate controlled" (as in a thermostat controlled heat source that keeps it warm all the time)?
    is the coop area damp alot?
     
  3. HershelMS

    HershelMS Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 17, 2013
    Just to offer you a little info about molting. This is a process of recovery. Hens "should" molt anually. Naturally, a hen begins to molt when the length of the days fall below 10 hours of daylight. Daylight is essential for egg production... therefore, mother nature and father time work hand in hand on this one... When daylight is less than 10 hours, egg production falls, offering a much needed rest for the hen to recover for the next laying season. But, if a coop is lighted artificially all the time, this tricks the hen into laying year round. This is not a good idea as the hen will lay out about two years early... then you have a hen just taking up coop space...
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    Do you have photos ?????


    Molting can also be part of stress [​IMG]




    gander007 [​IMG]
     
  5. ChickensRule101

    ChickensRule101 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2013
    Central Texas
    Yes, there are roosters than pick on her and two hens. (One picks a LOT on her for no particular reason and one just picks on her if she is trying to eat...) You can say that she is stressed, but she was never stressed before when they picked on her, it started suddenly. Yes, there is a light in the coop. But it only stays on at night when it is cold and the chickens need a little warmth. And it stays on to keep their water from freezing. A thought comes to mind that I feel I need to answer, the chickens are free range, we have 5-acre land that they can run about, picking in the dirt. The hen sleeps with everyone else, 2 roosters and 5 hens. Yesterday she was in the coop when a rooster went inside and suddenly she rushed out... She looks horrible, no feathers, just a bit of feathers to cover the skin... [​IMG] No, the coop isn't climate-controlled. And the coop ain't damp. It is cleaned weekly. Thank you.
     
  6. ChickensRule101

    ChickensRule101 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2013
    Central Texas
    I will add images soon, :)
     
  7. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    Question How cold is it where you are ???????

    Are you putting her in a safe place for recovery ??????
     
  8. ChickensRule101

    ChickensRule101 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2013
    Central Texas
    In the day or night?

    Answers:

    Night: A little over freezing...
    Day: 50-60 Farenheit We're in the U.S. Texas
     
  9. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    The day sounds great same here ......

    Question how cold at night as chickens really put out way more heat then you do ..........
     
  10. HershelMS

    HershelMS Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 17, 2013
    The picking:
    Usually, when a chicken is getting picked on, he or she was added to a flock after the original flock had established a pecking order.
    There are other instances but a new bird inserted into an old flock, almost always, the new bird gets picked on. sometimes, if the
    old flock is substantially bigger than the new bird, they will even kill it. If it is a hen, it will become more apparent when she reaches
    age of egg production and the rooster starts to show her more attention. With a rooster, the picking becomes more evident when
    the new rooster reaches breeding age, most of the picking, at this point, is done by the other rooster. Its all about the pecking order :)...
    The light:
    Light is essential for egg production. If there is 11 hours light available to the chickens per day, they will continue to lay and postpone
    their natural molt (basically fooling nature with the artificial light). In this case, stress builds over time... not a nervous stress but a physical
    stress on the body. Chickens that are given artificial light tend to lay out a couple of years early... remember.. a molt isn't a condition
    among hens.. it is a natural thing... a period of recovery... The feathers coming in (dark quills very thick and pronounced) does sound
    like she is, or is at least trying to go into a molt... her avoidance of the rooster is a sign she is trying to molt, but the rooster will not allow it.
    Try this... Turn the light off for about a week... they will start using the sun as a natural cycle of "daylight"...
    Keep this in mind:
    Picking is nother personal... it is natural dominance coupled with survival of the fittest... she is the weak one... therefore she is the one picked on...
    Try to give her a separate feeding location and if you have time, pull her from the flock and give her a mix of half kitten food and half chicken food.
    Up her protein to insure she is not weak and losing her feathers due to malnutrition (which is always a strong posibility if she is getting picked on
    and not allowed to eat)... The more meals she misses the weaker she gets... the weaker she gets... the more vulnerable she is to illness and disease...
    Honestly, if they pick on her until you see her bleeding anywhere, i would separate her and try to nurse her back to full health...
    Climate controlled:
    Good! they don't need an artificial "heat". The only "good" reason to provide an external heat source is in high humidity areas where the nexting area
    stays damp or wet due to humidity... in which case... its not a heater but a dehumidifier... They have enough down to take care of the temperature...
     
    1 person likes this.

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